Creating Better Digital Experiences for Manufacturing Customers

Episode 168

January 25, 2022

This week on the Kula Ring, we talk to Ken Novak, the owner of HATCH quantified. Ken walks us through the HATCH methodology, and how he works with organizations to understand their individual audience’s needs, drivers, motivators, and challenges in order to craft and execute strategies that will help them stand out in the market. We talk to Ken about psychology’s role in digital strategy and dive deeper into how the thinking and feeling side(s) of the brain play a role in how you market and sell to your ideal customers.

Creating Better Digital Experiences for Manufacturing Customers Transcript:

Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White. 

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how are you doing, sir?

Carman Pirie: I am feeling multitasky. 

Jeff White: There is a lot on the go. We’re recording this in kind of just the end of November, the run-up to the holidays for Canada, and-

Carman Pirie: Yeah, I’m being a little more selfish here. I’m looking at we’ve got a couple of recordings stacked back-to-back, and I’m like, “Can I order food via a food app and have it delivered in this small 10-minute window?”

Jeff White: In between? 

Carman Pirie: So, anyway, what our listeners don’t know is I’m gonna be trying to make that happen here over the next half hour. 

Jeff White: At some point. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: And see if it works. I don’t know. Look, it is good to be chatting again today, and I’m excited for today’s show. I like when we maybe go down some different topic areas where we haven’t been before that are a little bit more nuanced, and I think that maybe describes today’s show. 

Jeff White: Certainly gonna be true about what we’re discussing today. Yeah. And you know, I think certainly we talk with a lot of marketers and a number of sales folks but don’t necessarily think about it in the way that our guest is going to be approaching it, so looking forward to the conversation. Joining us today is Ken Novak and Ken is the President of HATCH quantified. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Ken. 

Ken Novak: Jeff, Carman, thanks for having me. 

Jeff White: Glad you could be here. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Ken, what’s HATCH quantified? Tell us about that?

Ken Novak: I would love to. What a great way to start. You start with me. I appreciate that, fellas. 

Jeff White: It’s all about you. 

Ken Novak: Oh, boy. Don’t tell my wife that. Yeah. HATCH quantified, it is my passion. It is something that I started up and it really goes back to a representation of what I’ve done over the course of my career. I’ll give you a quick backstory here. The front half of my career was on the consulting side of digital strategy. Managing very large, global, Fortune 500 accounts. And the traditional agency model, I believe, is ripe for some disruption, and I say that because of the second half of my career. The second half of my career I was leading global strategy execution inside of a Fortune 500 manufacturing company, and what I learned is there’s a lot of operational takeaways and learnings that I acquired over the course of time, but one of the things that made me realize is the model of consulting and billable hours, for instance, is ready for a little bit of a shakeup is the fact that manufacturers, and distributors, and clients in general, the key part to any sequence of strategy development and execution comes down to the ability of the partner and the brand to really do a good job of discovery, right?

And discovery is a really painful process. 70% of all of the man and woman hours dedicated to any strategy execution should be spent in discovery. And I want to put a little bit of a spotlight on this because discovery, design, develop, deploy, that’s just what I talk about. Every agency kind of has its own sequence of events and handoffs from start to finish. 

Jeff White: They’re almost all multiple-D sequences, though. 

Ken Novak: Right? 

Jeff White: Our special 4D process. 

Carman Pirie: I know. I know. Yeah. I wasn’t gonna say anything, but okay. Okay. 

Jeff White: But it’s true, though. I mean, there’s a lot of sameness there in how that’s kind of brought to market by these agencies. 

Carman Pirie: It’s important to be self-aware. 

Ken Novak: Let’s go down that path for a second because it seems like they’re all a concentric circle, where they all self-feed each other, or it’s a fishbone chart and it’s a pretty picture. It’s like it’s all the same thing, right? And here’s what ties all of it together, though, is when I was doing consulting, it was really unfulfilling because the way that I would go about scoping and billing clients for work when we got into the design part of the process, there was a lot of creative iteration. Iteration, after iteration, after iteration. And it caused a lot of friction in those relationships, and I never quite understood why was that iteration happening, but it was only because you’re just learning stuff in the middle of the design process you should have known before you even started, right? 

So, what I’ve done with HATCH is I want to mitigate and take out some of that conflict, that conflict of interest, the friction between consulting and brand, because clients aren’t gonna pay you to learn their business and agencies aren’t gonna sit top billing talent inside of a brand for three months to go learn their business and on the way out, hopefully, fingers crossed, we’ll get some business. Agencies don’t work like that either, right?

So, what’s really important for clients is that all of the risks are on them. It’s on them in the hopes that they’re going to get the deliverable and the outcomes that they’re investing in. And in order to do that, what I’ve created with HATCH it’s a different methodology and process that mitigates that risk of clients by creating and delivering operationally viable deliverables. At the end of the day, no one cares about strategy. Strategy is meaningless without execution. And that’s where HATCH specializes, helping organizations digitally transform by creating operational roadmaps of which sequence of events and which sequence of capabilities need to be developed most cost-efficiently based on your current, individual, unique current position. 

And that’s the key. You’ve already made investments in different platforms, technologies, and teams, and that’s gonna be custom to you. You may be more evolved in certain capabilities versus others. Great. But what we have to do is figure out the most cost-efficient way to get started to eat this elephant, because that’s the hardest part, especially in industrial when you’re talking about operational headwinds of people, process, and technology. Every organization has a different level of fidelity or maturity levels in regard to all three of those. HATCH is meant to circumvent some of those operational challenges. 

Carman Pirie: I find myself largely in violent agreement, which doesn’t make for an interesting show at all, frankly. 

Ken Novak: I can be a lot more-

Jeff White: We gotta find a way to disagree here. 

Ken Novak: Don’t worry. Provocative. 

Carman Pirie: No, no. I do want to… Look, I would have an endless appetite to probably talk about the disruption of the agency landscape. It’s certainly something-

Jeff White: I mean, even if you just want to talk about the removal of billable hours as a metric. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. I mean, you know, as an agency, we haven’t sold an hour in a decade, you know? So, as I say, I’m kind of completely picking up what you’re putting down. I’m just aware that the three of us may be more agency geek than our listeners. But I am curious about kind of going this one step further because I know that this approach that you bring to this, Ken, is about the contrasting of the feeling brain and the thinking brain. You put a lot of emphasis on that in your work and it’s certainly highlighted on the site, so how does that come into your methodology and delivery? 

Ken Novak: Great question, because this is part of the different approach to this, and it’s also fed through because oddly enough, my collegiate career. And my degree, a very strange degree, is in rhetoric. Don’t know anyone else that’s ever had a rhetoric degree from college, but just a little self-promotion, I was also part of the National Honor Society for all of the five rhetoricians that graduated with that piece of paper over the course of my collegiate academia career. 

But during my time at university, I learned a lot about philosophy and psychology, and a rhetorician’s job is to carefully select a specific sequence of words in hopes for their audience to take action, right? And rhetoric is defined as the Greek art of persuasion. I’m leaning into that part of the conversation here because when you talk about specific sets of words to insight an action with an audience, you’re talking about sales and marketing, right? And when we talk about the feeling brain and the thinking brain, what is critically important is that there’s a lot of psychology behind all of this. 

So, when you’re crafting these strategies and executing strategy, you have to play into and understand the individual audience’s needs, drivers, motivators, challenges, day-to-day operations and frustrations in order for you to carve out and create a differentiated, and that’s key, what can you say no one else can, message that’s gonna stand out in the marketplace. I lean into this, the essence, and the sense of psychology and its role, in marketing communications and digital to make sure that you’re appealing to the psychology and the psychological needs of the people you’re trying to connect with. 

So, when we talk about the thinking brain and feeling brain, I’ll tell you a quick story. I’ll give you an example. My family and I, I’ve got two girls, and we went on a road trip, okay? And when we talk about the thinking brain and feeling brain, your thinking brain, that was my traditional or my upbringing, I was really good on the thinking brain side. You can ask my wife. My wife’s a mental health therapist. I was not very evolved on the feeling brain side of my head. And what I believed was that with this thinking brain, I could navigate through logic in any situation, and the feeling brain’s role is to control things like emotion and abstract process, language, right? And each one of these two different sides of the brain has different roles and functions that they serve humans for. That thinking brain, logic, math. Feeling brain, emotions, language, abstract, right?

So, we’re on this road trip and my seven-year-old was getting a little feisty. She was picking at her older sister. Dad, I’m driving, I got the radio on, I’m all thinking brain, and we’re cruising down the road. My wife picks up with her feeling brain about what’s going on in the back seat. Dad is just in lockdown mode, right? I’m not even hearing anything that was going on. And what happened was the little one was getting frustrated, and tired, and wanted to get out of the car. I’m like, “No, we’re gonna get there. We’ll be there in a couple of hours.” Picks on the older one. Frustration happens in the back, extends up to my wife, dad’s the last one to feel it, and that feeling brain, when that kicks in, it’s meant to mitigate or suppress, protect the body from any discomfort, right? And we’re all hardwired with these two sides of our brains. 

These two sides of our brains are hardwired and have evolved over the course of time. And that feeling brain controls a very specific and critically important part of human existence, which is emotion. My point in the story is that during this process of this road trip, my thinking brain was in 100% control, focused on the road. I’m gonna get us there at a good time, we’ll get there, we’ll get lunch, we’ll be all good. We’re not gonna deal with any of that feeling brain stuff. And then what happened was eventually when that frustration started with the seven-year-old, went to the older sister, got to my wife, dad was the last one that felt that pressure coming from my wife because she was getting frustrated with what’s going on in the back seat. She was the one that had to deal with it. 

So, what’d we do? We pulled over and we took a break and all that. And it was all because of that frustration of trying to protect something that I was trying to avoid. And then I just leaned into that because eventually, that’s what controlled my behaviour, and that’s the other key bit here. Thinking brain, feeling brain, not just emotion is controlled by the feeling brain, but most importantly behaviour. And that’s the connection to any of this digital engagement we’re talking about with manufacturers, distributors, and engineers, and they’re motivated, and you’ve got to make sure you connect with the feeling brain side of their head so that you get the behaviour that they want to achieve. And oh, by the way, your business needs them to achieve. 

So, what I do with HATCH is I take a very specific approach to make sure that we are crafting our engagements, and our strategies, revolving around external people. Digital transformation is not about technology. It’s about people. And what HATCH does is craft operational roadmaps, strategies, and tactics, and deliverables all focused around the people of your business, starting with your customers and pushing that information into the corporation to set business requirements. You have to change from the outside in. Give people what they want on the outside. Financial growth and outcomes that you seek are a natural byproduct, but it’s really hard. It is really hard to change longstanding, decades-long operational processes with technologies that aren’t really meant for today’s world. 

So, we gotta make sure that we achieve what customers want on the outside while mitigating and minimizing the pain that happens inside. 

Carman Pirie: I don’t want to lose sight of this feeling brain, thinking brain, trying to think through how it’s instructive to marketers. I suppose in some ways it’s quite easy to see how it impacts copy direction, messaging strategy, and things of that sort in various areas, and how that may even impact creative direction.

Jeff White: It certainly impacts messaging. I mean, rhetoric is the entire art of how you message those things and how you choose to kind of put them together. I was lucky to study rhetoric, as well, and symbiotics as part of my design degree, so I have books and books of rhetorical tropes and how those things come alive through visual communication, but there aren’t many of us who kind of understand that when you’re putting that together from a messaging perspective. But yeah, I think it’s really interesting. 

Carman Pirie: Well, and that’s why I’m trying to operationalize it in some way for today’s listeners, is to say, you know, what’s the practical instruction here? 

Jeff White: How do they bring it to life? 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. I appreciate that the feeling brain and thinking brain exist. I see how that can impact copy, messaging, and creative direction. It’s funny, though, because we’ve seen in the world of marketing that the next extension of this is kind of almost like neurological marketing, right? Like we can see what things we’re triggering in people’s minds based upon messaging that we’re transmitting, et cetera. And then get some level of predictability about the success of that creative or that execution. And I just call BS on that so hard. I just don’t think we can be decoded quite that easily. 

Jeff White: That far?

Carman Pirie: Yeah. I don’t know. So, I’m kind of wondering where the intersection of that is with this feeling brain, thinking brain discussion? 

Ken Novak: So, the feeling brain piece of the conversation obviously is more conceptual just by definition, right? So, maybe let’s go on that thinking side of the brain. We’ll get a little more tactical. We’ll get a little more structured. We’ll start to paint some operational processes or pictures that people can start to visualize as they’re listening throughout the podcast, right?

So, we’ll get very tactical. We’ll talk about manufacturers, distributors, and industrial engineers. One of the easiest ways, the best ways that HATCH operates to help organizations start to get that transformation… Remember, your internal business requirements need to be set, defined, most importantly prioritized by the needs of the people you’re trying to influence and mold your organization around, your customers. Okay? 

Industrial engineers, when they’re not shopping for industrial products, they have very, very high eCommerce digital expectations that have largely been set when they have their consumer hat on their head. And what HATCH has done is we’ve created a list of over 110 different usability criteria for industrial engineers and what they need from industrial websites. We do a super deep-dive analysis of an organization’s digital abilities to convert traffic into meaningful conversions based on the wants, needs, and feeling brains of those engineers because that’s what they seek. And as we know, a lot of these organizations, so many industrial companies’ websites are struggling, right? It hasn’t been a core part of the organization’s maturity. 

And look, the industrial organizations have grown over the years without digital, right? They haven’t had to invest. And I don’t want to speak kindly of COVID, for obvious reasons, but in our collective space, couldn’t have come at a better time because it finally forced a lot of these organizations to really have some difficult internal conversations, look themselves in the mirror, and really try to identify. Because when belly-to-belly sales went away, there wasn’t a plan B. Digital is that plan B. And oh, by the way, this is something that their customers have been pushing upon them for a very long time, but they haven’t had to invest. Now they’re starting to. They’re starting to migrate from the path that they were to make sure that they have the capabilities that their customers want and need so that they can retain market share. 

They have a lot of options. Engineers can go to a variety of places out there. But when you have an engagement on your website, it is the most important piece of digital real estate you own as a brand. It is the one digital experience where you have 100% control and responsibility of that experience of a customer going from product selection to fulfillment. And you better get that right. Customers know that they can shop elsewhere. If your taxonomy and your attributes are not sufficient for them to select and identify the product they need for their application, or if your search functionality doesn’t help them find those part numbers, they’ll bounce. They’ll go to some of these large what I call horizontal marketplaces. Very, very wide array of industrial products meant to target a very, very wide array of applications and industries. Those organizations that we all know, they’ve crushed that. That product selection piece. 

Manufacturers have the content that everybody wants. You better make sure that you’re presenting that content as efficiently as possible to access part numbers. People buy parts. Get them to those part number pages and you gotta make sure that your pages are set up in a way that you get to convert them into meaningful buying actions. 

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Jeff White: I think too, there’s certainly been a prevalence within the manufacturing sales community to pre-COVID, as you were saying, a lot of that was happening, they were walking the halls of existing accounts and looking for those opportunities, cozying up to the engineers that they knew, getting introduced to the ones they didn’t, and that was how business was done. It was expanding existing accounts through personal relationships. 

I couldn’t agree with you more about making those product pages work harder, finding better ways for conversion, understanding where people are in that process, and getting that in front of them. How have you seen some of these sales teams adopt more COVID-friendly kind of ways of working? How have you, and I certainly like the idea, we talk a lot here about starting from the money and working back, so from the existing sales and work backwards to the awareness phase or the awareness stage. How are you bringing that to life in the context of thinking about how engineers are buying?

Ken Novak: Yep. Great question. And I couldn’t agree more, by the way, by working from the outcome backwards, because that is the most efficient way and you can tailor and refine your process more efficiently that way, so I love hearing that. 

So, for an existing client, for instance, the process that we go through at HATCH is when we do the deep dive analysis of identifying all of the recommendations that need to be achieved on your website to close CX gaps, that’s not the hard part. There are so many people out there that can identify, well, an existing client for instance, during the checkout process for a guest user, you can’t have a PO number as a required field. Doesn’t make sense. I’m not logged in. If I found you on Google by typing in part number ABC123, I find your product page, I add it to my cart, I go to checkout, and then I hit a brick wall. That’s no good. You can’t do that, right?

So, coming out of that CX assessment by identifying all of the recommendations and CX gaps that you’re giving to your customers, here’s the secret sauce, and here’s what has to happen, is you’ve gotta prioritize all of those things that can be easily executed. And we go through a process sitting with the operators, platform owners, executive team members, where we roll out the scroll of all the recommendations and we get everybody, sales, marketing, customer service, IT, inside sales, warehouse, involved in the process, and we score all of these recommendations. Value to the business, value to the customer, and most importantly, level of effort, right? 

Tactically, here’s the outcome; the client wants to do BOPUS and ROPUS. Buy online, pick up in-store. Reserve online, pick up in-store. But there is no way any of their platforms, POS systems, and ERP data is ready to have that kind of capability, so where do you start? Recommendation number one, turn off PO as a requirement for guest users. Every single time I do this exercise there is always a list of things that you can get done that are super high value to the business, super high value to the customer, and is a load-light lift. What are we talking about? Go start there. 

Some of these tactical recommendations that came out for a recent client would be to turn off POs for guest users. Turn on chat. That’s an easy thing to say, but what are the activities behind that? In order for me to turn on chat, I need to really do two things. I have to find out and identify all of the people in my various customer service departments that are going to be available on chat for what schedule. That work didn’t get done. Guess how long that takes? It was done in under a month. Chat is one of the most important pieces in industrial experiences because it gives engineers an opportunity to connect with another engineer that can help them source, identify and troubleshoot their application and products. And that’s how people want to engage. 

Don’t send an email that goes into a black hole. Don’t show them a poor digital experience in hopes that they solve it on their own. And most importantly, avoid cost eventually by avoiding those incoming phone calls. Every single incoming phone call to a customer service department costs you $8. Eight bucks. In a past life of mine, and this is a really interesting stat, seven out of 10 incoming phone calls to customer service departments in industrial are to ask the exact same question. And that question is what’s the status of my order. That is mind-boggling to me because there are thousands, and thousands, and thousands of $8 phone calls coming into your customer service department every single year. 

Carman Pirie: Not only that, but my goodness, it’s a problem that can be solved in a multitude of ways. 

Ken Novak: That’s right. 

Carman Pirie: We have a bunch of options. 

Jeff White: And very inexpensively, usually, too. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. And it can be solved in a way that gives you a competitive advantage potentially. It can be solved… You know-

Ken Novak: And most importantly it’s table stakes. It’s table stakes for customers. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Exactly right. 

Ken Novak: And those expectations as table stakes have been set by their B2C experiences. B2B organizations, the world is more complex. Data is more complex. Old, outdated architected systems are more complex in B2B. But the requirement is the same for the customer. Give me that access and oh, by the way, you avoid the cost on the back. I don’t need to pick up the phone. You start migrating those behaviours. Feeling brain, right? Tap back into that feeling brain. Customers have told you for years that this is what they want and need. Avoid the cost but give them what they want. 

Jeff White: Well, and of course, too, you’re not just benefiting your customers, but you’re also freeing up those customer service representatives to do more, and better, and higher-value work. 

Ken Novak: That is such a great statement. I just read a report actually the other day; Salesforce did a report that when you implement digital transformation and automation sequences inside of an organization, the net byproduct is four hours per week per employee savings. Applying that to a customer service team of five, 20 hours, 48 workweeks a year is 900 and some hours. What they want to do with those now time saved hours is built out an inside sales function, because that’s what the customer service team members want to do. They don’t want to field incoming phone calls for support and troubleshooting for things that customers should be able to do themselves on the web. They want to reallocate that time into prospecting, going out and actually building new business relationships. That’s the key. And it scales. 

Carman Pirie: I’m curious, because of course, when we think about an example of seven out of 10 calls coming into your call center are for one question that you could get answered another way, when you see something like that, you don’t have to be the sharpest business mind in the world to say, “Probably seems like it’s a good idea for us to head down this path that can fix this.” So, is it lack of awareness, do you feel amongst your clients and prospects that leads them to not have fixed this already? Or what else is standing in their way of addressing some of these core issues? 

Ken Novak: I’m engaging with a lot of people in space and one thing, so when we talk about people, process, technology, right? The process and the technology sides of that Venn diagram in the industrial space can be on a very, very wide spectrum. However, in most industrial organizations, it’s that people lens that unites a lot of industrial organizations because that’s where the biggest challenge and the struggle is. Overworked, under-experienced team members, in regard to digital transformation, have been there for a very long time, they don’t have that experience because they haven’t had to. It is so critical to have internal talent, knowledge, and experience of providing and improving these experiences for their customers, but you only get that through experience. You can only identify cost-efficient ways of achieving that objective of customers leading to business outcomes when you’ve done it before.

And what a lot of industrial organizations do… I mean, they’re built on margin. Margin and volume. And one of the ways to make sure that you’re increasing margin is to avoid costs, and do it cheaper, and less expensive, right? But you also get what you pay for. And when you have internal team members that may not have that depth of experience that’s needed to do an ERP configuration and implementation, costs go up, timelines extend, and everybody gets frustrated. 

Carman Pirie: So, are you suggesting it’s often just a lack of desire or willingness to bring in external expertise?

Ken Novak: I was just engaged with a partner of mine that specializes in ERP implementations, and he made a great point because so many industrial corporations out there have done a version one, if you will, of a new ERP, or a new eCommerce, or new fill in the blank, right? And that version one that was created five, six, seven, eight years ago is still in place today. They did that on the cheap, and it was really painful to start, and now what these organizations have realized through the process of COVID is that those implementations and capabilities that they have available to them, it is really inefficient, and it is not what customers ultimately want. 

So, I don’t think it’s not so much an appetite as it is a lack of understanding and appreciation of what to do about it. Think about what this means for the executive teams inside of manufacturing and industrial organizations whose stock price is doing fantastic, right? If the stock price is going up, I haven’t really had that motivation to invest in closing these CX gaps. But what the organizations have not quite grasped yet is what is the opportunity cost over the course of time by pushing your traffic to other digital sources for the same information that they should be going to you for? 

Carman Pirie: And I’ll never understand this attitude of wanting to be… You know, people say, “Well, customers aren’t really asking for that yet.” It’s like, “Oh, well, so you just don’t have any interest in leading them at all. You don’t have any interest in being out in front. You don’t have any interest in being a leader in your category.” 

Jeff White: In driving that bus. 

Carman Pirie: You just want to respond to the lowest common denominator. You’re gonna wait until the market tells you via a share price drop that you need to get your-

Jeff White: Get busy living with eCom. 

Carman Pirie: Right. I’ll just never understand because they don’t take that same approach in other areas of their business. Manufacturers often may invest proactively in new equipment to try to get an edge over the competition, et cetera. They’ll hedge some bets. 

Jeff White: R&D. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. But then this notion of… Wait. Well, the customers aren’t quite asking for it yet. It kills me every time. 

Jeff White: Yeah. 

Ken Novak: So, one last thought here. One of the other things that we do, because I think you’re touching on something really important, is that in the industrial space, what I see a lot of similarity in is the reactive nature of the organizations to actually adopt and change, right? If they see an external competitor or threat to their business doing something, that motivates them more than anything, what customers say, or internal team members might say. And when we do this analysis, we also make sure that we’re picking out the best of the best. When I talk about those horizontal marketplaces that are defining those B2B digital experiences of industrial engineers, they’re doing all of the things that these engineers want and need. They’ve already funded it. They’ve already done the research. But most importantly, they’ve given you the roadmap. They’ve shown you all of the capabilities that your website needs to have to meet the heightened expectations of those customers. 

Look at advanced search. How many industrial organizations have crushed and just done a real bang on job of advanced search capabilities? If I start typing a part number, I should have an auto dropdown that’s happening that’s showing me all of the different part numbers that match that exact same thing as I’m typing in keystrokes, and I should be promoting maybe products that are on sale, or kitting options, or the category that these part numbers are related to. Organizations don’t do that. And it’s all meant to save time. 

And one last thought here is to make sure that when you look at the industrial space, a lot of your competitors probably aren’t doing the stuff correctly, either. But there are other marketplaces, for instance, that are getting the eyeballs that you want and need on your website and they’re doing a really, really good job, and you see… I mean, I just saw the latest on Amazon Business, which is the elephant in the room for a lot of distributors out there. They are I think going to be… They are now seven times the size of Grainger. 

Jeff White: Crazy. 

Ken Novak: In the next two years? Or 10 times? I mean, it is insane what is happening. I think the next 5 to 10 years in the industrial space is going to be fascinating to watch. You’re already starting to see a lot of the acquisitions happening very similar to what you saw in finance and in banks a while back. 

Carman Pirie: I think looking at those B2B marketplaces that speak more directly to the targets, it is an instructive approach. You mentioned Amazon Business and point taken, but I do find that sometimes this conversation gets a little too bogged down in-

Jeff White: On the consumer side?

Carman Pirie: Yeah. B2C expectations coming over to B2B. But that’s really not what we’re-

Jeff White: Because the B2B expectations are there already. 

Carman Pirie: That’s right. And those expectations are being further defined and refined.

Jeff White: While you wait. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly right. Exactly right. But look, Ken, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Had absolutely no idea where this would lead and it’s been a fun, meandering conversation. I thank you for sharing your experience and expertise with us today. 

Ken Novak: Thank you both for the invitation and for being great hosts. Look forward to joining you guys again. 

Jeff White: That would be great. Thanks a lot. 

Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring, with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Don’t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at That’s

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Ken Novak

Owner, Hatch Quantified

Ken Novak is 1/2 digital strategist, 1/2 ops accelerator with 20+ years helping industrial manufacturers and distributors grow revenue and avoid costs with digital. His work at HATCH helps organizations digitally transform cost-efficiently by correlating digital investment to financial KPIs.

The Kula Ring is a podcast for manufacturing marketers who care about evolving their strategy to gain a competitive edge.

Listen to conversations with North America’s top manufacturing marketing executives and get actionable advice for success in a rapidly transforming industry.

About Kula

Kula Partners is an agency that specializes in maximizing revenue potential for B2B manufacturers.

Our clients sell within complex, technical environments and we help them take a more targeted, account-focused approach to drive revenue growth within niche markets.


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